Harvey Cushing

Harvey Cushing : A Life in Surgery

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Here is the first biography to appear in fifty years of Harvey Cushing, a giant of American medicine and without doubt the greatest figure in the history of brain surgery. Drawing on new collections of intimate personal and family papers, diaries and patient records, Michael Bliss captures Cushing's professional and personal life in remarkable detail. Bliss paints an engaging portrait of a man of ambition, boundless, driving energy, a fanatical work ethic, a penchant for self-promotion and ruthlessness, more than a touch of egotism and meanness, and an enormous appetite for life. Equally important, Bliss traces the rise of American surgery as seen through the eyes of one of its pioneers. The book describes how Cushing, working in the early years of the 20th century, developed remarkable new techniques that let surgeons open the skull, expose the brain, and attack tumors-all with a much higher rate of success than previously known. Indeed, Cushing made the miraculous in surgery an everyday event, as he and his team compiled an astonishing record of treating more than two thousand tumors.
Moreover, Cushing was also a leading authority on the pituitary gland and a pioneer of endocrinology. And in his spare time, he won a Pulitzer Prize for his massive two-volume biography of William Osler, who was Cushing's colleague. This is the definite Cushing biography, an epic narrative of high surgical adventure. Written by a prize-winning medical historian and acclaimed author, it captures the highs and lows of an extraordinary life, illuminating the contributions of a surgeon who has earned an enduring place in the pantheon of medical history.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 608 pages
  • 148.6 x 214.1 x 18.5mm | 358.34g
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 61 photographs and line illustrations
  • 0195329619
  • 9780195329612
  • 246,823

Review quote

"It is beautifully written and illustrated, a pleasure to read, and paints Cushing 'warts and all.' A must for anyone with an interest in the development of our profession and with the life of this extraordinary man."-British Journal of Hospital Medicine "Another tour-de-force by Michael Bliss. Like Bliss' William Osler: A Life in Medicine, it will be a classic of medical history." -Jock Murray, Medical Humanities Program, Dalhousie University "Bliss has provided us with a definitive biography of the founder of American neurosurgery. It is a book about glitter and intensity, about vision and persistence, and about the emergence of America as a world leader in medicine. Sophisticated, balanced, and thoughtful it is a story of interest to physicians, surgeons, and lovers of history." -Peter M. Black, MD, PhD, Franc D. Ingraham Professor of Neurosurgery, Harvard Medical School and Neurosurgeon-in-Chief,
Brigham and Women's Hospital "The essence of biography is the elucidation of personality, and this is accomplished in a superb fashion in Michael Bliss's splendid modern biography of Harvey Cushing, with each chapter providing a facet of insight into a complex and fascinating icon of 20th century medicine and surgery." -Edward R. Laws, MD, FACS, Professor of Neurosurgery and Medicine, University of Virginia "Bliss...had a voluminous treasure trove of primary documents with which to work. His readable and thoroughly documented book presents Cushing as both an icon and a human being whose family and colleagues suffered from his single-minded devotion to work and blunt perfectionism. Written almost 60 years after the last major Cushing biography, this illustrated work calls on new resources and provides a more contemporary perspective."-Library
Journal "Brings back to life an amazingly accomplished man who was the father of American neurosurgery, a leading authority on the pituitary gland, a pioneer of endocrinology and a Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer."-Denver Post "As cleanly efficient as a successful operation.... As this solid, accessible biography reveals, Cushing may have been the very devil to live with, but with a scalpel in his hand, he did God's work."-Julia Keller, Chicago Tribune "A fast paced, engaging portrait of one of America's great pioneers and heroes. Bliss gives important insight into Cushing's motivations, inspirations, demons, and flaws, thus revealing how he was motivated to change a field and bravely create a new outlook on the functioning of the brain as well as a fundamentally new approach to medicine and research." -Henry Brem, Harvey Cushing Professor and Chairman, Department of Neurosurgery, Johns Hopkins "An absorbing chronicle of the career of one of the greatest medical innovators ever produced by the US-or any other country.... One of the most extraordinary lives any biographer might wish to study.... It is Bliss's great accomplishment that he has made accessible not only the science, medicine, and professional atmosphere of Cushing's career, but also the character and personality of the man.... What Bliss has given to his subject is what Cushing himself, or any
of us, would ask of a biographer: understanding."-Sherwin Nuland, New York Review of Books "Monumental. Bliss begins before the cradle and ends beyond the grave, touching both on the material facts of Cushing's remarkable successes and on his convoluted inner life.... It is difficult to imagine how any future writer might improve on this masterpiece of compassion and erudition." -Richard Barnett, Lancet "This masterwork of narrative brings to vibrant life one of the most complex, brilliant, and endlessly fascinating medical personalities of recent times. In a book that will stand as the definitive biography of Harvey Cushing, Michael Bliss demonstrates once again why he is that ideal combination of storyteller and scrupulous historical researcher craved by general readers and envied by academics."-Sherwin Nuland
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About Michael Bliss

Michael Bliss holds the prestigious rank of University Professor at the University of Toronto. He has written numerous prize-winning books in medical history, including The Discovery of Insulin and William Osler: A Life in Medicine. One of Canada's most distinguished historians, he has received the Order of Canada and an honorary Fellowship in the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, and is a Fellow of the Royal
Society of Canada.
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Table of contents

Opening: The Surgeon and the General ; 1. Western Reserve: The Cushings of Cleveland ; 2. Making a Yale Man ; 3. Making a Harvard Doctor ; 4. Making an American Surgeon ; 5. A Window on the Brain ; 6. Opening the Closed Box: The Birth of Neurosurgery ; 7. The Bottom of the Box: Interrogating the Pituitary ; 8. Adieu the Simple Life ; 9. Adieu America: Cushing Goes to War ; 10. An American Surgeon at Passchendaele ; 11. Fathers and Sons ; 12. Johnson and Boswells: Chief and Harem ; 13. Sprinting to the Tape ; 14. Regius Professor at Yale ; Closing: Inheritance and Memory
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Rating details

107 ratings
4.28 out of 5 stars
5 43% (46)
4 49% (52)
3 5% (5)
2 2% (2)
1 2% (2)
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